Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats.
Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact.
The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday.
A Democratic source said that Franken directed his criticism solely at Axelrod.
“It was all about leadership and health care and what the plan was going to be,” the source said.
Franken — a comedian turned liberal talk show host — vowed to keep a relatively low profile when he arrived in the Senate over the summer after a protracted legal battle with former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman. But he has developed a reputation among his colleagues as one of the more aggressive personalities on the Hill.
Last November, after Tennessee Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander authored an op-ed in a local paper defending their opposition to a Franken amendment, Franken confronted both men on the floor — and grew particularly irritated with Corker.
He lashed out at Corker and a staff member in a follow-up meeting about the matter, several people said. Franken also clashed with South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in GOP leadership, last month in a scathing speech during the health care debate, and staffers have reported other run-ins.
Yay, Al!! I didn't vote for Franken hoping that he'd be quiet and unassuming, I voted for him to be forceful, bold, and fearless, for Al to shake things up and make things happen in Washington. I voted for him to speak truth to power...and make it stick. This is no time for quiet. So far, Sen. Franken has exceeded my wildest expectations (which, admittedly, were pretty high to begin with). We need more like him in the Senate.
Bravo, Sen. Franken! "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!!"